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How To Remove a Tree Stump

The quickest & easiest way to remove a tree stump is with a stump grinder. Find out how to use these machines here.

How to Remove a Tree Stump Step-By-Step

  •  Remove It Manually. 
  1. Dig around the whole tree stump, and loosen and remove any earth to expose the tree roots.
  2. You will have to sever all the roots and continue to dig and remove materials until you reach the taproot.
  3. Once you reach the taproot, clear the area around it and sever it.
  4. You can now prise the stump out of the earth.
  5. Removing a tree stump this way can be hard work, and can take up to 12 hours.
  • Remove It With Chemicals. 
  1. Use a chainsaw or reciprocating saw to remove as much of the stump as possible.
  2. Drill holes as deep as you can into the stump, then fill them with water and add your chemicals.
  3. Soak the surrounding ground with water, and cover the area with a waterproof tarp or binbags, and weigh them down. This traps the moisture.
  4. Check on the progress often, adding more water and chemicals, and removing bits of the stump as it decays.
  5. Removing a tree stump with chemicals is inexpensive, but it can take years.
  • Burn the Stump. 
  1. Drill holes as deep as you can into the stump.
  2. Fill them with powdered tree stump removal products to make it more porous.
  3. Pour a flammable liquid into the holes and allow it to soak it, then ignite the stump.
  4. Watch it until it smoulders, then you can dampen the flames if you need to.
  5. Removing a tree stump by burning it can be dangerous.
  6. You might need a waste exemption from the government, such as a D7 exemption. You might not have permission to do this where you live.
  • Contract a Stump Removal Professional. 

Some companies and contractors will remove your tree stump for you. But, depending on the variables, this could be expensive. You could also end up with contractor without experience or qualifications. You might struggle to find an available service in your area - if you live in an urban, or built-up location.

  • Remove It With a Tree Stump Grinder. 

Read on to find out more about this process.

Tree stump removal can be labour intensive, time consuming, dangerous, and expensive. The Guardian's Alys Fowler recommends using a tree stump grinder to remove a tree stump. We agree, so we are going to tell you all about how you can use one of these machines yourself to get rid of tree stumps.

What is a Tree Stump Grinder?

Tree stump grinders are powerful machines. They are mounted on wheels, and have a petrol engine and hard-wearing, rotating chisel blade. The blade rotates to grind away at the tree stump and turn it into fine wood chippings.

Stump grinders can make easy work of removing large and stubborn tree stumps. They provide a much more efficient and less laborious way of removing a tree stump than trying to do it by hand.

When to Remove a Tree Stump

There's no magic period for removing a tree stump that'll make the job easier. You can fell a tree and remove the stump at any time of the year. However, if you're doing it manually, it can be easier if the stump has dried out. If you can leave the stump for a 18 months, or the stump has been around for a few years, the task might be easier. If you are doing a chemical removal, you should do it as soon as yu have cut the tree.

How to Use a Tree Stump Grinder

When using a tree stump grinder to remove tree stumps from the ground, you should first tackle the roots.

Wheel the machine in place so that the blade is in position over an exposed root. Start up the engine and begin by grinding across the roots. Use a steady sweeping action from left to right and back again. You should angle the machine so that it grinds 1” down from the top of the roots on each pass. Each time, sweep back across the root at 1” lower than the previous pass.

Once you have cleared the roots, you can then tackle the stump.

Approach the stump the same way you approached the roots. Sweeping across the trunk, you should grind around 1.5” down on each pass. As you chip the stump down, you can wheel the machine forward to tackle further into the stump. Once you have chipped the stump down to ground level, you can even tilt the machine downwards to grind down below ground level. This way, you can completely remove the stump.

As you remove a tree stump, the machine will produce a lot of wood chippings. Stump grinders feature chip deflectors which help to prevent the wood chips from flying about. It will leave you with a pile of wood chippings to deal with afterwards.

Stump Grinder Safety

There are chip deflectors fitted to our tree stump grinders. Deflectors prevent the wood chips flying around and causing injury.

But, you must wear full safety equipment when using a tree stump grinder to minimise the risk of injury whilst using the machine. This includes a hard hat and face visor, heavy-duty gloves, work boots and ear defenders.

Tree stump grinders are powerful pieces of equipment. You must take in all advice given, read the instruction manual. Only use the stump grinder if you feel confident enough to do so.

Why Do I Need to Remove Tree Stumps?

Leaving tree stumps in the ground after you have felled a tree can lead to problems with 'suckering'. This is where new shoots sprout from the trunk and roots. While you may have cut the tree down, it is still very much alive and still growing in your garden.

If a stump is dead, it will not form suckers, but the stump can look very unattractive and out of place. The dead stump could also play host to root diseases such as honey fungus, so it is not worth taking that risk.

What Do I Do With the Wood chippings

Once you have removed the tree stump, you can use the chips left behind to fill in the hole. Or you can use them as mulch in other areas of the garden, you can clear them up using a vacuum/blower machine. You can also compost them.